If you keep gaining weight despite all your efforts, check your hormones—they could be to blame!
A hormonal imbalance may be the reason you can’t lose weight even if you regularly exercise and watch your diet. Thankfully, the fixes, while requiring expertise and proper diagnosis, are not as hard to implement as you might imagine.
Here are the 6 hormonal problems you need to solve to lose weight:
1. Insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone you’ve probably heard about.
When you are insulin-resistant, your body doesn’t respond to insulin normally. So glucose stars collecting in your blood. To compensate for this, your body produces more and more insulin.
This eventually results in diabetes or prediabetes. The body is then unable to process glucose properly. Weight gain is a common fallout. Other problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome are also linked to insulin resistance.
How to lower insulin resistance:
- Get on a strict low-carb diet to keep the blood glucose levels from rising.
- Eat avocados, pomegranates, berries, lean proteins, peppers, and high-fiber grains to make your body more sensitive to insulin.
- Build some regular exercise into your routine to help correct the underlying hormonal issues that are worsening the weight gain. Walking for just 30 minutes daily can cut diabetes risk by 30%.
2. High cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s meant to regulate your reaction to stressful situations.
Unfortunately, if you expose yourself to too much stress because you’re not getting enough sleep, have a stressful work or personal life, or are simply not eating right, you could end up with a surge of cortisol in your body.
When you’re stressed, you’re likely to crave fatty sugary foods to ease that stress—and that’s a recipe for weight gain. In addition, if you’re sleep deprived, higher cortisol levels can link to insulin resistance, which puts you at further risk of obesity.
How to lower cortisol levels:
- Sleep for at least 7 hours at a stretch every night. Eat foods with tryptophan and melatonin—cottage cheese, turkey, kiwifruit, and cherries—for better sleep. Stay away from caffeine and electronic devices for at least 2 hours before sleep.
- Exercise every day to make your body adjust to higher levels of cortisol and release endorphins, the mood-lifting hormones, to counter the cortisol.
- Try stress-relieving activities like yoga or meditation.
3. Estrogen imbalance.
Estrogen, more widely known as a female sex hormone, has an important role to play in regulating your body weight too. In the right amounts, it regulates insulin levels in your body.
This ensures your body keeps its blood glucose levels steady, supplying it as energy to muscles. However, an imbalance of estrogen is risky.
You can have too much estrogen due to a high intake from dietary sources like meats. Or you can have too little estrogen due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or obesity.
This in turn could put you at risk of insulin resistance, with less glucose going to your muscles and more remaining in the bloodstream. Your body then starts storing the excess glucose as fat.
How to balance your estrogen levels:
- If you have too little estrogen, eat more fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, and fish. Cut down on caffeine.
- If you have too much estrogen, eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage.
4. Leptin and overeating.
Your appetite is regulated by a couple of hormones, one of which is leptin. Sometimes, your body may develop resistance to leptin, ignoring the signals this hormone is sending out.
The result? You won’t be able to tell when you’re actually full and should stop eating. For faster weight loss, it’s essential to manage your leptin levels.
How to control your leptin levels:
- Avoid processed foods and sugary snacks.
- Quit alcohol.
- Don’t eat too much fruit, especially fructose-rich fruit like pineapple or melons.
5. Low testosterone levels.
The male sex hormone is an important piece of the metabolism puzzle in both men and women. Not having enough of it in your body could cause you to have higher fat mass and lower muscle mass.
In addition, a testosterone deficiency is also linked to higher cholesterol levels, increased triglycerides, and even reduced insulin sensitivity. All of these are implicated in weight gain and fat buildup.
How to increase testosterone levels:
- Cut down on foods with phytoestrogens (plant estrogens).
- Cut down on bread, alcohol, and sugary drinks which lower testosterone.
- Avoid drinking water from bisphenol A (BPA)-laden plastic bottles.
6. Thyroid problems.
Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 also have a part to play in body weight regulation. These hormones determine the rate of metabolism for all the cells in your body.
Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid can cause your metabolism to become sluggish and bring on weight gain. You may also experience tiredness and constant fatigue.
Digestion can suffer as well. While it cannot be cured fully, hypothyroidism can be managed with these steps.
How to treat hypothyroidism:
- Cut down on soy, iodine, caffeine, and refined carbohydrates. Eat more proteins but not gluten. Cook goitrogenic vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, or cauliflower.
- Get enough sunlight and fresh air.
Have you ever considered the importance of hormones?